Rush to close vaccination gap for Hispanics

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Troves of misinformation, language barriers and fears around immigration enforcement are hampering efforts to vaccinate Hispanic communities against Covid-19, challenging the Biden administration’s push to crush the coronavirus as a dangerous new variant quickly spreads.

Much of the nationwide attention on the slowing vaccination campaign has focused on hard-line resisters, predominately in Republican-led states in the South and Mountain West. But Hispanic communities, even as they’re among the most eager to receive the shots, are still facing barriers to vaccination that could leave them vulnerable to the virus this summer, according to interviews with nearly two dozen people working on vaccination efforts, including state officials and community groups.

The White House, which has acknowledged it’s likely to narrowly miss President Joe Biden’s goal of vaccinating 70 percent of adults by July 4, is facing renewed pressure to energize the vaccination campaign while the Delta variant — now accounting for at least 20 percent of infections — gains a foothold in communities with lower vaccination rates. But advocates for underserved Hispanic communities say government at every level is struggling to overcome the systemic barriers to vaccination in those communities — many of the same forces that have historically left them with uneven access to health care.

“The system is set up to not really work with us,” said Venus Ginés, the president and founder of Día de la Mujer Latina, a community-based organization in Texas. “It’s just a lot of lip service, a lot of window dressing is happening right now. And yet our communities of color are still suffering.”

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